Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Lovely, lovely laksa

I apologize for the smartphone photo. I had not planned on blogging this,
but it just came out so tasty, I could not help myself.

Red curry laksa with shrimp

(Malaysian-style rice noodle soup)

This is a dinner that was planned for another day. But with a head cold setting in, I needed something with spice and flavor, but not a lot of heat.
This soup, a Malaysian style dish, has plenty of aromatics in the lemongrass, garlic and ginger. There is turmeric, which adds flavor and gives it a lovely golden-orange color.
And, one of my favorites is in here: red curry paste.
There is so much going on here, yet it all works perfectly together. And perfectly with the base of broth and coconut milk.
Thinly sliced onion and red pepper swirl around the bowl with light, thin rice noodles, and shrimp add some meatiness.
To finish the soup, I wanted more fragrant goodies, so I topped it all with little tears of fresh mint and basil.
The smartphone picture does not do justice to the beauty of the dish, but it was getting late. And I really just wanted to eat.
But first, to give it a sniff. It was all there. Fragrant perfection.
And the more I ate of it, the more my head cleared. At least for the moment.
I can only that if it smelled and tasted this good with my impaired senses, it would really sing when things are firing on all cylinders.


1 tablespoon canola oil
1 large yellow onion, peeled, quartered and thinly sliced
3-4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 stalk lemongrass, cut into 4-inch lengths then split
1 14-ounce can coconut milk
4 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth
3 tablespoons fish sauce
1-2 tablespoons red curry paste (add 1 tablespoon first, then adjust to taste)
1 tablespoon honey
1 teaspoon ground coriander
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 tablespoon fresh ginger, grated finely with a microplane or chopped as fine as possible
 1 large red bell pepper, quartered, seeded and thinly sliced
3/4 pound peeled and deveined shrimp
3-4 ounces thin rice noodles (called rice vermicelli or rice sticks)
fresh mint and/or basil for garnish


Heat canola oil in a large pot over medium-high heat.
Add onion, garlic and lemongrass. Cook, stirring often, about 5 minutes or until the onion is soft, but not browned.
Add the coconut milk, broth, fish sauce, red curry paste, honey, coriander, turmeric and ginger. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes.
Add red bell peppers and cook until softened, about 5 minutes.
Use tongs to carefully remove lemongrass pieces, or, if you leave them in, be careful when serving to leave them out of the bowl.
Add shrimp and rice noodles and continue to simmer about 3-4 minutes, until shrimp are cooked and noodles are soft.
Serve immediately. Sprinkle with fresh mint and/or basil.